Uptake: Unrest In the Healthcare Workforce

November 10, 2023

By Dmitry Beyder, MPA, CNMT
—SNMMI-TS President

If rising supply costs and reimbursement pressures weren’t already enough for our American healthcare system to deal with in 2023, now additional pressures are wreaking havoc in our workforce, increasing labor shortages and discontent among actively hard-working healthcare professionals. Thus far in 2023, we have already had seven major healthcare strikes, with another looming. The employees’ ask is consistent: better wages and more staff to help with patient care.

Does this effect nuclear medicine technologists? You betcha!

Recent surveys conducted by the SNMMI-TS show that nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs) are leaving the clinical field to go to industry and education positions or to retire. While these are healthy professional migration patterns, there is concern that by the end of this decade, we could be facing workforce gap of up to 30%; thousands of technologists will be unavailable to undertake the growing demand in the clinic for nuclear medicine and PET diagnostics and life-changing therapy for patients with neuroendocrine tumors, prostate cancer, and other illnesses. We have work to do to ensure that NMTs are healthy and content in the future and that our patients have access to molecular imaging and therapy.

The good news is that the SNMMI Technologist Section leadership and committees are working on it.

We are innovating with the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board to ensure that NMTs in the U.S. are ready for modern molecular imaging and therapy techniques coming our way.

  • We are working with educators on creative ways to increase the number of NMTs entering the field and continuing to build their knowledge and long-term expertise.
  • We are exploring the global NMT landscape—in partnership with the European Association of Nuclear Medicine, Rural Alliance in Nuclear Scintigraphy, Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine, and Ghana NMTs—to work out a way to share the workforce internationally.
  • Finally, the SNMMI-TS is working with SNMMI Value Initiative industry partners on creative ways to support, encourage and strengthen NMT development in the U.S.

Will our efforts solve all the issues facing the healthcare workforce? No, it will not. However, we hope that these initiatives and partnerships will help us ensure that NMTs globally are supported, invested in, and ready for what comes down the pike in our exciting field. Buckle up and enjoy the ride! Nuclear medicine technologists will play an integral role in the future, and we are determined that our professional group will be ready.